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Purana Qila (Old Fort) Travel

The Purana-Qila (Purana-Qal's) occupies the ancient mound, which conceals perhaps the ruins of the city of Indraprastha of Mahabharata story. Sher Shah Suri demolished the city of Dinpanah built by Humayun and on the same site raised this citadel.
It is irregularly oblong on plan, with bastions on the corners and in the Western Wall. Its ramparts cover a perimeter of nearly 2-km.and has three main gates on the north, south and west, the last one functioning as the entrance now. The gates are double storeyed, built with red sandstone and surmounted by chhatris. On the inside, against the enclosure wall run cells in two-bay depth. Among the three main gates, the northern one is called the 'Talaqi-Darwaza' or the forbidden gate. Why and when the entrance through it was forbidden is not known. Above the oriel windows on its front are carved marble leogryphs engaged in combat with a man. The exterior of the gate was originally decorated with colored tiles, and the rooms with incised plasterwork.

Historical Names: Dinpanah & Shergarh
Built By: Humayun
Built Between: 1538-1545

Purana QilaLegend Of Old Fort:
It is believed that Sher Shah left the Purana-Qila unfinished, and Humayun completed it. Among the scribblings in ink that existed in a recess of the gate, there was a mention of Humayun, and it is possible, therefore, that if the gate was not constructed by Humayun, it was at least repaired by him. In the southern gate, which is called the Humayun-Darwaza, there existed a similar inscription in ink mentioning Sher Shah and the date 950 A.H. (1543-44). Purana-Qila originally lay on the bank of the Yamuna. The general depression on the northern and western sides of the fortress suggests that a wide moat connected with the river existed on these sides, which were approached through a causeway connecting the fortress with the main land.

Excavated Site:

In 1955, in some trial trenches sunk in the southeastern portion of the Purana-Qila, pieces of the Painted Grey Ware turned up, apart from relics and remains of later period. Since this characteristic ware had been noticed earlier at several sites associated with the story of the Mahabharata and had been dated to around 1,000 BC, it's occurrence here seems to support the tradition of Purana-Qila being the site of Indraprastha, capital of the Pandavas, heroes of the epic Mahabharata.

Discovering Ancient Remnants:

Excavations were resumed here in 1969 along the flanks of the passage leading to the Water Gate in the eastern wall and continued till 1973. A settlement of the Painted Grey Ware people has not been located, but a continuous stratification from the Mauryan to early Mughal period has certainly emerged. Pieces of the Painted Grey Ware occur, however, sporadically but among later deposits. Evidence of the Mauryan Period (c.300 BC) is provided by the existence of the Northern Black Polished Ware, a fine hard earthen pottery with a glossy surface, punch-marked coins, human and animal terracotta figurines and inscribed terracotta seals. Soak-wells lined with terracotta rings and burnt bricks have also been found, although most of the dwellings were made of mud bricks or wattle and daub sometimes reinforced with wooden posts. The Northern Black Polished Ware continued during the Sunga Period (c.200 - 100 BC) along with plain red pottery. The houses were largely built of local rubble or of mud bricks over rubble foundations. Tamped earth or mud bricks made up the floors. Small terracotta plaques modeling semi-divine beings (‘yaksas and yaksis’) represent the characteristic art of this period, reflecting the religious beliefs of people. Uninscribed cast coins of the Mathura kings and terracotta sealing also occur in these levels. Stamped decoration marks the red earthenware of the next Saka-Kushan Period (c.100 BC - AD 300). Firm evidence of the chronology of this period is provided by the copper currency of the Yaudheyas and Kushans. The increasing use of burnt brick appears now to lend an urban look to the settlement. Surprisingly, in the levels of the succeeding Gupta Period (c.400-600) the houses that have been encountered are built of brickbats. A gold-plated coin with the figure of an archer on the obverse and the legend Sri-Vikrama on the reverse leaves no doubt that it belongs to one of the Gupta rulers.

Inscribed sealing and beautifully modeled human figurines are other characteristic objects of this period. A coarse red earthenware, terracotta figurines and pieces of fine but damaged stone sculpture indicate the occupation of the site during the Post-Gupta Period (c.700-800).Towards the end of the Rajput Period (c.900-1200) a massive rubble wall was raised to enclose perhaps part of the town, although the houses continued to be built with rubble, brickbats and mud bricks. There was little change in pottery. Coins of ' bull and horseman ' type, including those of Samanta Deva, have also been recovered from these levels. During the succeeding Sultanate rule (1206-1526), rubble and brickbats were used for ordinary houses. But it witnessed the introduction of glazed ware, both of Central Asian affinities and local manufacture. Coins of Balban (1266-1286) and Muhammad Bin Tughluq (1325-1351) have turned up in these levels. Typical and fascinating objects of the early Mughal Period (1526-1556), representing the rule of Babur, Surs and Humayun, came from a refuse dump of discarded broken household objects. These included jars of eggshell-thin grey ware, glazed ware dishes and painted Chinese porcelain, a piece of which bears the Chinese inscription made in the great Ming Dynasty of the Cheng Hua era' (1465-87). On another piece is inscribed a fairy tale in Chinese verse. Other interesting objects comprised glass wine bottles, a gold earring inlaid with emerald and pearls and a coin of 'Adil Shah Sur (1552-53).

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